Wednesday, 1 October 2008


Forty-one years ago today, my maternal grandmother (my Nanna) died. She had been in a coma for six weeks after being found on the floor of her kitchen having suffered a stroke. Nanna was the only one of my grandparents I ever knew, the other three having died during the war and before my birth.

Nanna was fifty-nine when she died, the same age that I am now. I was her first grandchild, the object of her overwhelming love. When she died, I was an eighteen years old university student, a gay man at a time when it was illegal to engage in homosexual acts and very few men were out as homosexual to the wider community. The few who were out in those days were almost always 'artistic' and often effeminate.

Whereas I don't think of myself as being old today, Nanna seemed then to be an old lady. It is interesting how much has changed in those forty-one years concerning attitudes to homosexuality, people's life spans and concepts of age.

Would Nanna have loved me less had she known? Maybe she did know?


  1. Great post. I wonder these things too.

  2. I'm sure that mostly they (mothers, grandmothers etc) know - deep down, anyway.

  3. A few interesting observations in your post. I can't imagine what it may have been like growing up gay during that time and then to be introduced to the advent of the AIDS epidemic. It wasn't until after the AIDS outbreak that I knew I was gay. And the observation of how old we thought our grandparents were. I remember a photo of my patenal grandfather at 69 when I was 5. My father is 71 and looks like my grandfather at age 50. Then again, some of it can relate to the line of work they were involved in.

  4. Nice post. I am six years younger then you so more or less grew up in the same era. I have only memories of one of my grandmothers too. The other passed away before I was born. Used to love her hugs and cooking and staying with her house in Toukley over xmas holidays. Fond memories. Who is the painting by in your post? Just luv it.

  5. Muzbot - thanks.

    Marcellous - I think you are right.

    Afod - your reaction is interesting. I didn't have AIDS in mind at all when I wrote the post but your comment inspires me to a new posting I will compose shortly.

    Anon - thanks. Unfortunately I don't know the painter although I tried to find out. I found the photo on Google images and rather liked it.

  6. A grandmother's love is unique. I doubt very much she would have loved you any less.

    My grandmother (Nana) just passed in April at the age of 86. We were incredibly close, my last surviving grandparent (her husband passed in 2002). She was an amazazing woman who had love that knew no boundries and took my husband on as her own grandson without reservation.

    I knew all of grandparents and had three of them until the 2000's. The memories of them all I will cherish forever.

    Nice post.

  7. Doghigh - you are lucky to have known all your grandparents.